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Woman commits suicide rather than live in digital-age
Updated Friday, April 11th 2014 at 00:00 GMT +3
Switzerland: We only know her as Anne, the 89-year-old woman who took her own life rather than live in digital-barmy.
She travelled to the Dignitas suicide clinic in Switzerland, protesting at modern society’s command to “adapt or die". She chose death.
Anne’s revulsion was extreme. You can often choose which bits of technology you want, and this is the age of the “silver surfer” who plays the internet like a Stradivarius.
But she has a point. Increasingly, you’re an un-person if you can’t – or won’t – use a computer for your daily needs.
Employers, government officials, town hall wallahs, the NHS, BBC, politicians and Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all expect you to be online. All day. Every day.
Get online, or go without. Get out of line with a DWP jobsworth and you’re sanctioned, like a million others. No more benefits.
This enforcement regime is wrong. Nobody should be bullied into laptop labour, just because it’s more convenient for the bosses or officialdom.
Young ’uns don’t mind, because it’s how they’ve been brought up. They’re hooked. Their brains are hyped up with overkill communication.
There are even cases of babies addicted to iPads.
And now computer capitalists are trying to invent a digital “soul”, a computerised version of yourself that will talk to people after you’ve died. 30,000 people have signed up, even though the project is 18 months from reality.
The mind boggles. There is a generation (I belong to it, and so might you) that didn’t grow up with computers. We came to this game late. And while appreciating the good side of technology, we have no wish to be dominated by it.
The myriad demands of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the other “social media” gizmos reduce people to androids, with the average Brit checking for emails on their mobile phone more than 100 times a day.
That’s precisely the charge made by retired art teacher Anne before she took a fatal overdose of barbiturates last month.
“We are becoming robots,” were among her last words. “They say adapt or die. I feel I can’t adapt because the new age is not an age I grew up to understand.”
What a moving epitaph.
And what an indictment of the life she chose to leave.
Technology is neutral. It’s just machines. It’s the use to which it is put that is political. So when those in authority choose technology to extend their range of power, sometimes it’s wise just to say: “No. I’ll do it like I’ve always done – or not at all.”
The race to a sci-fi future is accelerating fast. Money is behind it, of course. Advertising, profit and customer capture. It is a one-way street to psychosis.
No wonder poor Anne chose her own direction.